Michael McFee is professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, his most recent, The Smallest Talk, published by Bull City Press in 2007. His first collection of essays, The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview, was published in 2006 by University of Tennessee Press. McFee is also the editor of three anthologies, his latest, This Is Where We Live: Short Stories by 25 Contemporary North Carolina Writers, published by University of North Carolina Press in 2000.
Who knows how many words
I’ve reduced to mere rubbery static
with the hand that wrote them,
scraping the paper hard until only
a shadowy blankness
was left behind, blowing and then sweeping
smudged eraser crumbs off
the scrubbed sheet to linger in gritty drifts
at the edge of the desk:
changed mind’s detritus, second thoughts’ debris,
I gather up a pinch and then toss you
over my right shoulder
for luck, a backwards gesture for language
as yet unrubbed-out.